t was a leaflet posted through the door that started Becci Scotcher and her boyfriend, Dan Cousins, on the path to home ownership; previously the couple, despite having good jobs, believed they were thoroughly priced off the housing ladder.
For more than two years Becci and Dan had been paying £1,500pcm to rent a one-bedroom flat in the smart Woodberry Down development in Manor House, north London.
The fateful leaflet was offering first-time buyers the chance to buy a share of a property on the same site and, after calculating whether their joint savings plus help from family would equal a deposit, decided to take the plunge.
After a year spent WFH in their small rental the couple are now settling into their two-bedroom flat.
They moved in December, having paid just under £200,000 for a 30 per cent share of the property. “It is so much bigger, and it has a huge balcony, which is going to be absolutely great in summer,” said Becci, who works for a foundation offering grants to musicians.
The shared ownership system, as Becci and Dan, a freelance editor, discovered, is often the only way first-time buyers lacking a big chunk of money for an open-market deposit can buy a home.
And this spring a series of new developments in some of London’s best-located urban villages from Maida Vale to Wimbledon will start offering others the same chance.
For Becci, 39, and Dan, 30, Woodberry Down was a no-brainer. They had lived there since 2018 and already knew and loved both the area and the development, which has plentiful open space (a boon during lockdowns), overlooks a pair of reservoirs and is a quick walk to Manor House Tube station.
“It doesn’t feel like we are in London, we describe it as our Zone 2 oasis,” Becci said. They have also already made friends on-site, and – lockdown notwithstanding – enjoy using the “really friendly” on-site pub, café and restaurant when they couldn’t be bothered to walk to nearby Stoke Newington or Finsbury park.
Although shared owners only need to raise a 10 per cent deposit on the portion of the property they buy, the monthly costs of the scheme aren’t cheap. Becci estimates that mortgage, rent, and service charge come in at around £1,800. “Although we do now have a two-bedroom flat,” she said.
Shared owners, slightly controversially, do have to pay the full service charge for their homes, even the portion they don’t own, which for Becci and Dan is around £300pcm.
“It is a necessary evil if you are coming into a development,” Becci said. “Because we are shared owners we also don’t have access to things like the pool and the gym, but the concierges are really nice to us, and I suppose the full owners pay even more.”
The other way to get a leg up on to the ladder is via Help to Buy, a government scheme that cuts deposit requirements to a minimum five per cent by offering a start-out loan of up to 40 per cent of a property’s full value.
Architect David Panek, 36, is a big fan of Help to Buy – the scheme allowed him and his sister Patricia, 26 and training to be an architect, to club together to buy a home in one of London’s hipster hotspots: Peckham.
The siblings bought their top-floor flat in Peckham Place off-plan and David was able to use his professional training to find the site’s best property. At around 940 sq ft it is a decent size; the clincher was its large roof terrace.
David and Patricia’s home cost £600,000 and they had a down-payment of around 15 per cent. Their timing couldn’t have been better: they moved in at the start of spring lockdown and spent the summer lounging on their terrace.
Before he bought the flat, David’s rent on a room in a shared house in Brockley was £850pcm, including bills. He and Patricia now split monthly mortgage payments of £1,350, and a service charge of £160. “When you take bills into account it is cheaper than renting, but not substantially,” he said.
A pinch point will come after five years when David and Patricia must start paying interest on their Help to Buy loan, which David calculates will raise their mortgage payments to around £2,000pcm.
Peckham Place (nhgsales.com) offers shared ownership plans, too, with two-bedroom duplex flats, starting at £162,500 for 25 per cent share. Monthly costs are £1,896. There are also some three-bedroom duplex flats starting from £187,500 for a 25 per cent share. Buyers will need to be able to afford monthly payments of £2,052.
In Kensington, no less, Peabody (peabody.org.uk) has shared-ownership flats for sale at Royal Warwick Square, two minutes’ walk from Kensington High Street and within half a mile of Holland Park.
Prices start at £182,000 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat.
Buyers need a deposit of at least £18,250, and as well as mortgage repayments of £971pcm, they will need to factor in rent (£228pcm) and service charge (£220pcm).
Two-bedroom flats start at £195,000 for a 25 per cent share and the same monthly costs are estimated at just over £1,500.
Peabody has another shared-ownership offering: No 4 Oxford Road, set in the sweet spot between Kilburn Park and Kilburn High Road stations.
Paddington Recreation Ground is less than half a mile away, plus you have the gritty delights of Kilburn High Road and the trendy cafés and boutiques (post lockdown, of course) of Salusbury Road, Queen’s Park.
Prices for a 40 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat start at £196,000, with monthly costs including mortgage (£931), rent (£674) and service charge (£90).
Buyers who crave wide-open spaces could look even further north, at The Folium (catalyst.homes), which is moments from Coppett’s Wood, a 36-acre nature reserve where bluebells will soon be flowering amid the oak trees.
The Folium is a 20-minute walk from Muswell Hill Broadway’s shops, bars, and restaurants. Prices start at £167,000 for a 40 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat.
Shared owners can also buy into Galliard Homes’ reboot of AFC Wimbledon’s south London ground, complete with hundreds of homes, shops, and leisure facilities. Catalyst Homes has just over 180 shared-ownership homes for sale at The Switch, priced from £93,750 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat.
The minimum deposit is £4,688, and monthly costs include mortgage at £494, rent at £645, and service charge at £163.